ASU Student Leaders Prepare for the “New Normal” for Fall
By Hazel Scott/ASU
As Alabama State University prepares to open its campus and welcome students back after a March shutdown because of COVID-19, administrators and student leaders have worked tirelessly during the summer to ensure a successful fall semester.
Student Government Association President David Hammond and Miss ASU Yasmine Whitehurst acknowledge that the ASU experience will be different because of the pandemic, yet students can expect the same caring approach from their student leaders as in the past.
“This pandemic is not going to change my way of leadership of putting the study body first, working hard and being transparent. It may change the way of life but not the way I lead. I will still have an open-door policy with social distancing, in-person meetings,” Hammond said. “We live in unprecedented times and staying positive is important. I live by that motto every day and will impress upon our student body to do the same.”
The two student leaders pointed out that it’s imperative to create a sense of community on campus.
“We are the voice of their concerns,” Hammond added.
Whitehurst noted student leaders worked with ASU administrators over the summer to plan how students will experience their “new normal” this fall.
“We will do different things at ASU. Primarily, we’ll conduct safety challenges, have videos and will release important information,” she said. “There will be virtual events as well.”
As the country confronts Covid-19, Whitehurst and Hammond agree their priority is to help keep the student body safe and healthy during their time at ASU.
“That means wearing a mask and practicing social distancing in classrooms, workspaces and public areas,” Hammond explained.
“We are trying to do everything we can to educate and keep the student body aware of the importance of wearing masks. It is very important that we protect each other, and wearing a mask will help to do that.” Whitehurst said.
The two student leaders spent the summer acquiring face masks for students.
“We were able to secure masks over the break from two churches. This is the outside community that Dr. (Quinton) Ross talks about in CommUniversity,” Hammond said.
To help to keep the student body informed, the student leaders hosted a two-day virtual town hall meeting, “Hornet Hotline,” featuring University administrators.
“This was a chance for students, parents and alumni to tune in to Zoom to have a conversation with Dr. Ross and other representatives from key University departments, such as financial aid, housing and academic affairs,” Hammond said.
Whitehurst explained the importance of having this type of town hall conversation.
“Students were able to get their questions answered directly from ASU administrators. I think that was helpful to a lot of people. We are looking forward to doing more things like this during the school year so that students can stay on track about what’s going on,” Whitehurst said.
Engaging students, Hammond said, will look a little different this fall.
“We will use social media more this year than in the past,” Hammond said. “We plan to put more effort into our social media platforms, but we also are going out on foot around campus as well to let students know that we are still on campus working for them.”
The student leaders said balancing their leadership responsibilities with their schoolwork won’t be difficult.
“We may have adjusted the way we operate in order to ensure the safety our university community, but the great academic and ASU experiences will remain the same. It is the core of the ASU Spirit,” said Hammond.
Whitehurst says despite the challenges, COVID 19 does present some positive possibilities for the University’s student leadership.
“We already know about the negatives. The positive is that it gives us a chance to focus more on what’s happening in-house, and it gives us a chance to focus more on our studies. It’s something we will have to adjust to as to how we operate on campus, but this is a great opportunity for us to focus on the things that matter,” Whitehurst said.
As for the Miss ASU coronation, Whitehurst is staying optimistic about the event.
“I’m trying to look at it in a positive light because I know it won’t look the same. I like being creative and innovative, so I think it gives me the opportunity to think outside of the box,” Whitehurst said. “I’m excited about moving forward.”